If you were living in the Midwest of the United States in the early 1980s, chances are the way you were introduced to new music was via the radio. Cable TV wasn’t widespread yet, and the internet was nothing like what we know it to be now. Magazines didn’t usually give you a way to hear the music they were writing about. If you were at college, perhaps friends from other parts of the world introduced you to different musical things.
In this era of time, what I knew of King Crimson was the track “In The Court of The Crimson King”. The local album rock radio station played it from time to time. To me, it was a “rock” song, I knew nothing about the genre of “progressive rock”. It was just “rock”. If they played any other Crimson songs, they did not stand out to my ears.
So what drew me to Discipline? I don’t remember if it was anything special. The knot on the cover? That bright red? I certainly at this point in time had no knowledge of band other than Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake and Palmer sang on that track of theirs I was most familiar with. I knew nothing about Robert Fripp, Tony Levin, Adrian Belew or Bill Bruford, or any of the complexities of the group and the lineup changes.
My first listen – whoa – Elephant Talk – the lyrics with those sections – all the As, then the Bs, then the Cs, closing with the Es. (Listen to see what I am talking about!) Was that meant to be a subtle thing for the listener to catch?
Matte Kudasai (translated from the Japanese, it means Please Wait for Me) is probably my favorite song on the album. A woman waits for her partner to return from somewhere, perhaps he is a musician on tour?
Mr. Belew’s cleverness along with Mr. Fripp’s guitar tones are what make the album for me. Yes, Mr. Levin and Mr. Bruford are in the mix and certainly contribute to the proceedings!
Thela Hun Ginjeet was a confusing song for me, so I did a little research – it’s an anagram of “heat in the jungle”. So it makes sense, then, this piece of performance art, it’s Adrian in the city talking about cops and guns.
Is it “classic Crimson”? From what I’ve seen in my online circle, 80s period King Crimson isn’t loved by some. I love it, and it was my major entry point into the Frippian World.
This was also my leap into the genre of progressive rock beyond the standard American radio fare. It wasn’t till a raven didn’t want to sing that I grasped the scope of the genre more passionately. (More about that later!)
This is an album I will always have in my rotation.
Accessed for this article: The original 1981 LP and the 2011 40th Anniversary CD/DVD.
- Elephant Talk
- Frame by Frame
- Matte Kudasai (待ってください, Please Wait for Me)
- Thela Hun Ginjeet
- The Sheltering Sky (Instrumental)
- Discipline (instrumental)
Adrian Belew – electric guitar, guitar synthesizer, lead vocals, voice loops
Robert Fripp – electric guitar, guitar synthesizer, devices (Frippertronics)
Tony Levin – Chapman Stick, backing vocals, bass
Bill Bruford – drums, slit drum